Monday, October 13, 2014

Simple Techniques for Drying Flowers


 

There was a time when dried floral arrangements were hugely fashionable. Every fall I would make  up bouquets and a dried floral wreath to hang in our bedroom.

Styles change and over the years it became harder and harder to find the raw materials for my wreaths and flowers to make up dried arrangements.

Finally the habit of drying summer flowers faded altogether from the my fall routines.



Then, as luck would have it, I came across bunches of Strawflowers and Statice at the local Farmer's Market this summer. 

The fresh, new-mown-hay smell of the Strawflowers made me feel so nostalgic that I found myself wondering why I had ever stopped drying flowers.


There are a great many types of flowers and plants are suitable for drying. 

Here are just a few: roses, lavender, peonies, amaranthus, celosia, larkspur, Baby's Breath or gypsophia paniculata, hydrangea, German statice or Statice tatarica, Italian statice or Statice latifolium and a wide variety of herbs. 

Like Strawflowers, many of these flowers are actually easy to grow yourself.


Strawflowers, Helichrysum bracteatum: are wildflowers native to Australia. These sun loving flowers are actually short-lived perennials (USDA zones 10-11), but are generally grown as annuals in more northern climate zones. They are easy to grow from seed in any hot, dry site. Height: 30-40 cm (12-18 inches) Spread: 24-30 cm (10-12 inches).

Here in more northern gardening zones where are growing season is shorter, it is a good idea to start seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before the last spring frost. If you are in a more temperate zone, you can plant seeds outdoors after all danger of frost has passed.


The flower petals of Strawflowers have a dry, papery texture even before they are dried. The stem is quite fleshy in contrast and becomes a bit brittle when dried. (Quite often the Strawflowers heads are cut from the brittle stems and a florist's wire is inserted into the flower head to act as a stem. If you were preparing the dried flowers for sale or if the flowers are to be handled a lot, I would think about replacing the dried stems with florist's wire.)


This is the Statice, Limonium Sinuatum that I saw growing in the field at Butt's Berry & Flower Farm. It too can be grown easily from seed.


Statice, Limonium Sinuatum: There are a number varieties of Statice or Limonium. Limonium Sinuatum is an annual that has papery blooms on stiff green stems. Full sun. Height : 45-60 cm (18-24 inches), Spread: 38-45 cm (15-18 inches).


The best method for drying flowers varies according to the flower. Hanging flowers to dry is one of the easiest methods for drying a wide array of flowers. 

I dried my strawflowers in small bunches along with some white Statice or Limonium Sinuatum. 
While you may find it more of a challenge to find strawflowers to dry, Statice of varying kinds is commonly available most places you buy cut flowers. I have even seen it at my local grocery store in the floral department.

I was able to buy Sea Lavender or Limonium latifolia (seen above on the top right) at a local flower shop and found some pretty purple Gomphrena (seen above on the left) at the grocery store.


To prepare flowers for drying, remove any leaves and simply bind small bunches together with an elastic band. 

Make a bow with some twine and use one of the loops to hang your flower bunches. (Much to my husband's annoyance, I hung my flowers on a couple of the knobs on my kitchen cabinet doors.) 

Any dry place out of direct sunlight will do to hang your flowers. (Keeping them out of the sun is the best way to preserve the flower's color.)

I found it took about a little over a week for my flowers to dry. 


To make a simple arrangement with your dried flowers begin with the filler materials; in this case the feathery Sea Lavender. (You may find your dried Sea Lavender branches will shed some of the tiny blue flowers so choose a smooth surface on which to work. That way you can quickly sweep up any flowers that drop.)

Then fill in your arrangement with the chunkier Statice, Limonium Sinuatum.


Finally add your accents: in this instance, the Strawflowers and purple Gomphrena.


The overall effect of the finished arrangement is soft and delicate. 


I think you will find that drying flowers is a great way to keep a little bit of summer going well into fall.


In this post I'll show you how to make a wreath with dried flowers. You also might be interested in this post featuring projects with dried hydrangeas.

16 comments:

  1. Yes - I can attest for the crash as I did dried florals for years. In the late 80's and early 90's I did large weddings in drieds. I rarely even have anyone ask for them but do have fond memories.

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  2. I love drying flowers and using them in the house. It is a way to have bouquets during the winter months. I really enjoyed this post. Thank you.

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  3. Great post Jennifer. Dried flowers are always beautiful whether they're in style or not. I usually bring a bouquet of hydrangea in every fall to keep throughout the winter when I can't have fresh bouquets.

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  4. LOVE the wreath - what pretty colours!!

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  5. I have dried roses and lavender in the past, and look forward to doing more next year again when the lavender fills in a bit more. Your dried flower bouquet is so sweet and delicate. I don't know why the craze disappeared either, but there were some amazing arrangements you could find at craft fairs for a few years there. Wonderful post Jennifer :) Wendy

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  6. What a beautiful arrangement this is, Karen, and I absolutely LOVE the wreath.
    I used to dry flowers also, and like you, kind of got away from it.
    It just might be time to start again! :-)

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  7. What a lovely post and such a beautiful posy. How right you are, drying flowers has gone out of fashion and it's a shame as you can't beat them, especially if they are home grown. You have revived my interest, I shall look forward to the making of the wreath.xxx

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  8. I really enjoyed your post, the flowers all look so pretty. I've never tried drying flowers, I have always thought that our heavy clay wouldn't suit them, but maybe in a raised bed...?

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  9. Oh I love dried flowers...maybe next year I can grow and harvest flowers to dry...bringing them in for winter...looking forward to your next post too! :)

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  10. Do you know I used to do exactly the same - I have grown all those plants from seed - but like you forgot all about them. Strange how things go in and out of fashion isn't it.

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  11. Thanks!!! I have tried from time to time but mine never seem to work out- good tips!!! Pretty post.

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  12. Excellent information, Jennifer. I've never tried drying flowers, but maybe I'll try making a wreath after your next posting. P. x

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  13. What a beautiful arrangement! I've never tried drying flowers other than hydrangeas, which were quite easy. This makes me want to plant some strawflowers and statice next year.

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  14. Lovely post, and like you and several here, I used to grow flowers and dry them, but haven’t done that for years! I loved your collection of flowers, beautifully put together, I think I will have to think hard if I can manage to squeeze in some flowers suitable for drying next year.

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  15. What a beautiful arrangement! :) My mom still does it, and I love finding a vase of beautifully dried flowers (usually roses) waiting for me in my "old" room when I go back to Italy.
    Have a lovely new week!

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  16. Yes, I used to do it too, and can't remember why I stopped. As you say Jennifer, probably just changing trends. However, your post has inspired me and I will start again as they look so lovely in your post. Looking forward to your next post on drying roses as I have never done that.

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